By Brian Thomas
The visitors were awesome at Nagpur on Wednesday when they beat the home team comprehensively by 29 runs. India no doubt will come back strongly to level the two match T20 series.
Sri Lanka looked the better outfit in the first outing, especially in the fielding department. On hindsight the Indians were not at their best against a fine Sri Lankan team, which introduced fresh legs after the Test defeat.
Skipper MS Dhoni was defensive when he decided to bowl first on a belter of a pitch, despite the fact that India is blessed with devastating openers, namely the Delhi lads Gambir and shewag.
Sri Lanka has to contain this pair who can tear any bowling apart. The six allotted power play overs against this pair is Sri Lanka’s first hurdle. In the last outing the pair blasted 34 runs in three overs.
Shewag’s dismissal did not deter Gambir. Gambir has a license to blast any delivery in sight based on the fact that batsman to follow are batsmen who can clear the field and take the Ariel route.
Dhoni can clear well over 90 meters to any side of the ground, the same talent and ability is among the rest in the hut, namely Yuvraj Singh who blasted six sixes in one over off Stuart Broad in a world cup match, while Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma have shown all of us what they are capable of on true Indian pitches. India also has a pinch hitter in Yusuf Pathan, another player, similar in quality when it comes to clearing the park.
India with the strongest batting line up in world cricket will give all oppositions in any form of the game, batsman friendly pitches. They know very well that most teams in world cricket will find it hard to contain their batsman in limited over cricket and will struggle to dismiss them in the longer version.
It is for this reason that Kumar Sangagkara and his men deserve a huge round of applause for getting the better of the Indians at Nagpur. Trevor Bayllis and Stuart Law would have put in a lot of thought to plan out the strategy.
No doubt India bat down the order, however they overcome Sri Lanka’s superior bowling options, thanks to the type of pitches that their curators put into place.
The only area Sri Lanka can overcome some of the disadvantages they envisage to face in the rest of the series is by being immaculate in their catching and ground fielding.
Big Question, What is the remedy bowlers have to follow to contain the anticipated on slaughter on these types of pitches? Speaking to Anusha Samaranayake Sri Lanka’s ever green bowling coach he had a few pertinent suggestions.
1) Ensure that our seam bowlers don’t allow both Gambir and Shewag to get under the ball and take the Ariel route, during the field restrictions.
2) Mix up the deliveries, bowl well directed Yorkers and ensure that your radar is spot on.
3) Ensure nothing down the leg side. A Yorker directed or angled towards the leg stump will spell disaster.
4) To stop the likes of Shewag and Gambir, variation with the new ball and that too well directed is of paramount importance.
5) Keep Gambir and Schewg guessing all the time, don’t be predictable with them. When you vary and mix it up your chances of not going to the cleaners is much better.
Well the above is easily said than done, but this is a suggested option for bowlers who face the brunt during the power play on Indian pitches.
Incidentally this scribe was amazed to read that Indian skipper Dhoni does not take T20 seriously.
Under his captaincy India won the World cup and that too the Inaugural tournament. I reckon he must have got his words mixed up with all the interviews he faces with the media. India’s success story in the recently concluded Test series was great, but I reckon defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in front his home crowd must be hurting him too bad.